Investigators want the Virginia Military Institute to be held accountable for tolerating and not being bothered to address racism and sexism within their military college culture, according to ABC 8 News.
The five-month investigation was conducted by the law firm Barnes & Thornburg at the request of Gov. Ralph Northam, a VMI alum, after reports were published of allegations of a history of racism at the school.
The firm’s investigation team collected about 2,500 survey responses and nearly 400 interviews from VMI cadets, alumni, and faculty throughout the investigation.
VMI’s culture “creates and reinforces barriers” hindering the school from confronting the racial and gender disparities in the treatment of cadets and faculty, according to the 145-page final report.
According to the report, VMI’s culture has been continuously described as one of silence, fear, and intimidation and in some interviews, it was reported that sexual assault cases were kept under wraps and VMI members discouraged victims from coming out.
In a statement, VMI’s Board of Visitors called the allegations in the final report “serious” and that the school would treat them as such.
“VMI is not immune to the challenges all colleges face in this area, and there have been incidents on our campus which we have documented and shared as part of this investigation,” the statement read. “Let us be clear though, this behavior has never been tolerated and, as an oversight board, we are committed to assuring every action is being taken to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all at our school.”